Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on South Sudan – 20 May 2015

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the escalation of hostilities in the past ten days between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition and their allied forces in Unity and Upper Nile States.

He is appalled by the reports of human rights violations committed by the SPLA and their allied forces, including the burning of villages, and the killing and rape of civilians, in the course of their military operations in Unity State. He also deplores the death of four internally displaced persons (IDPs) caught in the cross-fire in the protection of civilians site within the UNMISS compound in Melut. He demands that immediate national investigations be conducted so that those responsible for these crimes are held accountable by their respective leadership.

The Secretary-General underscores that this fighting is unacceptable. It is part of a series of violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed by the parties on 23 January 2014 and undermines the ongoing Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in South Sudan.

The Secretary-General calls upon President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar to immediately cease all military operations and reminds them of their obligations to protect civilians under international human rights and humanitarian law. He reminds the parties that they must respect the inviolability of UNMISS premises, including protection of civilian sites, which are now host to more than 120,000 IDPs.

20 May 2015, New York